Whitehaven 19 Leigh 6: Rudd the guiding force as Whitehaven march on

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Whitehaven, perennial challengers at the top of National League One, kept their season alive with a convincing play-off victory against Leigh last night. Their scrum-half Carl Rudd, was the dominant figure with two tries, a goal and a dropped goal as the Cumbrians took control as the game went on.

It was all Whitehaven in the early stages and after steadily building pressure they took the lead in the seventh minute when Graeme Mattinson threw the ball wide for Craig Calvert.

The kicking game of Leroy Joe and Carl Rudd kept Leigh pinned back, although a loose pass from Rudd gave Leigh their only real chance when Miles Greenwood intercepted. He could not go the length of the field but Leigh were coming into the game.

Greenwood had another opportunity on the end of a crossfield move but failed to get outside Haven defence. After 25 minutes, Leigh did what they had threatened to do by drawing level, with Dave McConnell launching a high kick and Chris Hough touching down the loose ball and getting the nod from the video referee. Aaron Heremaia's kick put the visitors ahead but an offside penalty kick by Rudd squared up the score again.

As half-time approached Rudd's opportunism put his side back in front when he latched onto a loose ball when Leigh failed to deal with a kick from Joe.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, David Seeds, playing his last home game after a long career with Whitehaven, got over to stretch his side's lead.

Leigh could not hold on to the ball for long enough to stage a recovery after the interval and they paid the price when Rudd took a return pass from Richard Fletcher for his second try.

Rudd's dropped goal took Haven out of reach and underlined his crucial contribution on the night.

Whitehaven: Broadbent; Calvert, Seeds, R Jackson, Maden; Joe, C Rudd; Trindall, Mattinson, Fatialofa, Miller, Fletcher, McAvoy. Substitutes used: Sice, Hill, M Jackson, Baldwin.

Leigh: Giles; Rivett, Alstead, Stewart, Greenwood; Hough, Heremaia; Astley, McConnell, Wilson, A Rudd, Styles, Taylor. Substitutes used: Halliwell, Kay, Hill, Martins.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).